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Boeing said it received federal approval on a comprehensive wetlands mitigation plan to preserve 4,000 acres near Francis Marion National Forest.

The 4,000 acres includes more than 2,000 acres of wetlands, company officials said. The land is on three separate tracts near the forest in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Boeing said it received approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The company worked in partnership with federal, state and local agencies and conservation organizations to identify the tracts for preservation, which Boeing said achieves conservation goals of regional and national significance.

The result will be a substantial increase in public lands, public access, and protections of land, water quality and several rare, threatened and endangered wildlife species, company officials said.

"This investment significantly advances a national effort to protect and restore the fire dependent native long-leaf pine ecosystem," said Mark Robertson, South Carolina executive director of The Nature Conservancy. "Together, these acquisitions represent one of the largest private conservation investments in the Francis Marion National Forest and surrounding region."

The approved plan is part of the permitting process for 468 acres of land in North Charleston that Boeing announced it will lease from the state to protect for potential future growth. That leased property includes 153 acres of wetlands that date back to the property's former use as a phosphate mine.

The three tracts of land were closed on earlier this year.

Boeing funded the purchase of one tract by the Lowcountry Open Land Trust. LOLT will hold the property for up to five years and then transfer it to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for long-term ownership and management, Boeing officials said.

Boeing said it funded the purchase of the other two tracts by The Open Space Institute and The Nature Conservancy. OSI and the conservancy will hold the property for up to five years and then transfer it to the U.S. Forest Service for long-term ownership and management as part of the Francis Marion National Forest, Boeing officials said.

"This plan supports our business growth as well as our commitment to the environment and communities where we live and work," said Jack Jones, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina. "It's exciting because it ensures our ability to grow while protecting the unique natural ecosystem of this state for future generations of South Carolinians and visitors."

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